Keith's Ham Radio
VA3KSF VA3OB KB1SF
I was issued my first Canadian call sign (VA3KSF) in 2004. I was issued my second Canadian call sign (VA3OB) in 2013. I currently hold the Basic, Morse Code and Advanced Amateur Radio qualifications authorized by Industry Canada.
A US Citizen by birth, I was first licensed as an Amateur Radio Operator in Ohio (USA) in 1976 and was issued the call sign WD8CMU. Since then, I have operated my station with a variety of subsequent call signs including KA5CCO (Texas), KC0YU (Nebraska), and IV3KBU (Italy).
I was issued my present US call sign (KB1SF) in 1985 and currently hold an Extra Class license authorized by the US Federal Communications Commission.
I'm a retired Board of Directors Member, Treasurer, Executive Vice President and President of the Radio Amateur Satellite Corporation (AMSAT).
My Amateur Radio Stations
For many years, my main, "indoor shack" in Canada looked like this
Working through an AMSAT satellite with my "hand shack"
Operating from my Corunna, Ontario, Canada QTH (less than 2 miles from the US/Canadian border) as VA3KSF or VA3OB, I use a modest station that consists of a Yaesu Model FT-2000D HF/50 MHz transceiver.
On the HF bands, I prefer operating mostly CW (Morse Code) along with the various digital modes (such as FT-8, PSK-31, JT-65 and RTTY) usually with less than 100 Watts of transmit power. However, I sometimes also use a Ameritron AL-82 or AL-80B linear amplifier in this "shack" if I'm chasing rare DX or dabbling in on-air contests.
On cool days in the Spring, Summer and Fall, I'm most often operating from a small (security alarmed) storage shed in the back yard of my Canadian home using a variety of Icom, Kenwood and/or Yaesu transceivers. Again, I sometimes (although not very often!) use an Amp Supply LK-550 linear amplifier in this "shack" as well.
Alternatively, on cool days in the Spring, Summer and Fall, I can also operate from a compact, portable station set up in our home's 3-season sunroom. This station consists of a Yaesu FT-857D and an MFJ compact Intellituner running just 100 Watts or less.
As I live on a small city lot, my current "antenna farm" consists of a G5RV 80-10 Metre dipole (ZS6BKW modified version) at 40 feet in an "inverted V" configuration and a ground-mounted Hy-Gain Model 18-AVT vertical (with 24 buried radials) for the 80-10 Metre HF bands. An inverted "L" for 160 Metres puts me on "Top Band".
I also use a ground-mounted Cushcraft Model AP-8A (with 28 buried radials) for the WARC Bands...particularly 30 Metres. All of these antennas can be manually switched between the home, sunroom and/or shed stations via a patch panel located in the shed.
My operating awards include Worked All Continents (on both CW and SSB Phone) Worked All States and 2 Mixed DX Century Club (DXCC) awards...one with over 270 entities (countries) confirmed with my two Canadian call signs and another with just over 300 entities confirmed with my various US call sign(s). When my operations from both the USA and Canada are combined, I've made and confirmed contacts from well over 310 entities. I also hold additional DXCC endorsements for Phone and CW in both countries.
I've qualified for a large number of other operating awards over the years including the ARRL's VUCC (for both 6m and Satellite) plus 5-Band DXCC (on six of our nine HF Bands) as well as their prestigious Challenge Award.
I've also qualified for CQ Magazine's WPX for Mixed, CW and Phone. And, while I'm still well short of the required number for a DXCC award, I've also confirmed contacts with amateurs in over 60 countries via our fleet of amateur radio satellites.
However, these days, I limit my actual "wallpaper" and "plaque chasing" activity to simply adding to my various HF Mixed, Phone and CW award totals for DXCC.
In addition to my fixed-station operations, I often operate on both sides of the US/Canadian border from our family's mini-van using a Yaesu Model FT-857D and Yaesu ATAS-120 antenna. And when weather permits, I also enjoy operating on the HF bands from numerous temporary venues in both the USA and Canada.
For these activities, I use a variety of portable radios, with power generated from portable car batteries, emergency generators and/or solar panels. The antenna arrays for these outings include a variety of tripod-mounted portable dipoles or verticals fashioned from Hustler mobile whips, BuddiPole , BuddiStick and/or Eagle One Vertical antenna systems.
I've also used my Yaesu FT-847, Yaesu FT-857D, Kenwood TS-2000S and/or Kenwood TS-570D (sometimes with a Heathkit SB-200 amplifier attached) to operate "fixed portable" from Texas, Maine, and South Carolina.
On the VHF and UHF bands, I keep in touch with my local Amateur Radio friends in the USA and Canada on 2m and 70 Cm FM via the local repeaters with a Yaesu FT-8800R. I operate occasionally on 6 Metre sideband using an AEA Halo 6 antenna at 25 feet with 50-100 watts of power. I have recently become more active with D-Star, via an IC-92AD hand-held and a DVAP Dongle.As noted above, I'm active on the amateur radio satellites. I operate on the FM and analog (linear) satellites from my home QTH using either a set of M2 Eggbeater antennas or a medium-sized Yagi array. While traveling, I particularly enjoy using a hand-held or tri-pod mounted Arrow-style antenna and a HF/VHF/UHF all-mode radio (or a low power hand-held FM "walkie-talkie") to make contacts through our growing fleet of AMSAT "repeaters in the sky".
When I'm not on the air, I donate my time as an Amateur Radio instructor. I'm also accredited as a Volunteer Examiner for the Amateur Radio Service in both the USA and Canada. Over the years, I've helped scores of newcomers (in both countries) obtain their very first Amateur Radio licenses.
In addition, as I'm primarily a CW operator when I'm on the HF bands, I very much enjoy both collecting and using old (and new) Morse Code keys. My collection currently includes a number of Straight Keys, "Bugs", Iambic and Semi-Iambic Paddles from a variety of manufacturers.
I also write extensively about the amateur radio and, in particular, the amateur radio satellites. My features, columns and ham radio-related photos (aimed primarily at beginners on the "birds") have appeared in Monitoring Times Magazine, The Spectrum Monitor Magazine, The Canadian Amateur Magazine (TCA) and the AMSAT Journal. I also served as an editor for the most recent edition of the ARRL Satellite Handbook.
My modest Vibroplex Morse Code key collection. Nothing collectable...just modern versons of earlier classics
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